Monday, March 25, 2013

When a Change Really Does You(r Story) Good (March Madness Check-In, Day 25) #WIPmadness


"Maybe you weren't ready for that ... but your kids are going to love it."
- Marty McFly, Back to the Future, Part I

I've been enjoying all of the Back to the Future references this month. Kudos to whoever came up with the idea first because it's been a lot of fun. Michael J. Fox has a special place in my heart because he's from my city, and there's even a few buildings around here with his name on it. Little known fact: did you know I have a poster of a young MJF circa 1987, urging kids to read? I think it was part of a series the American Library Association put out back then. The public library I was working at was throwing it out finally in 2007 because they had newer, shinier posters, so they let me take it. It now adorns one corner of my office, and it kind of broke my heart on Friday when two techs came by to install a new scanner and one of them said, "Who's Marty McFly?" Sigh.

So, before anything can happen to tinker with our timeline, I'd better announce another March Madness winner:

Carol Garvin!

Congratulations, Carol!

Now, back to the regularly scheduled madness. ^__^

One of the other awesome actors I had the fortune to see at Emerald City Comicon was none other than Christopher Lloyd, a.k.a. Doc Brown. He was fun to listen to. Before he began the Q&A, he mentioned something that neither me nor my husband knew: that before Michael J. Fox was chosen to play the role of Marty McFly, a significant chunk of the film was shot with a completely different actor.

Whoa. Really? That's a huge change to make for a major motion picture that far into production. But it looks like the decision paid off, because can you imagine the movies any other way?

Okay, so think about that. Have you ever made such a significant change to a writing project that you hadn't expected you'd ever make? Perhaps something that was there from the start that you'd started to ignore in revisions because it was so ingrained into the fibre of your work? Or have you began a project with one premise driving the story only to realize that no, the story needs to go somewhere else, and this thing you started with needs the boot?

One that really sticks out for me, one for the list of amusing tales later on in my writing career, is the fact that I started out writing the manuscript I'm sending to agents soon in an unsuitable POV: First-person present tense. To the point where writing in present tense came naturally to me, felt natural, and felt right. *shudders* I've learned my lesson now. This is not to say that it might work for others (case in point: Hunger Games) but it definitely wasn't meant to be for me. Turns out my characters function much better in the past tense. Realizing that mistake and fixing it was vital, because it helped me rediscover my real voice, not the voice I'd been adopting for all that time.

It was an eye-opener, but I feel so much better for it, and even more confident about my voice. Even though I basically did the equivalent with POV as was done with the actor for Marty McFly.

Marty: "Doc... what if we don't succeed?"
Doc Brown: "We must succeed.
"

And we will.

That's my two cents madness for the week. How about you? Thanks for checking in here, folks! Now don't forget to stop by Shari's blog tomorrow.

30 comments:

  1. The first ms I dared query was originally adult fantasy with four POVs. An agent suggested I rewrite it as YA with fewer POVs. Later it became a MG with one pov.

    The scary part is--I think I was right to begin with. But it took me 6 more manuscripts to realize that.

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    1. But on the positive side, think of how much you learned in the process! :)

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  2. At the start of March, I'd picked a new project, a contemporary fantasy MG. I'd started with an outline, and what I thought was a pretty solid main character. Boy, was I wrong. After fighting my original premise idea for nearly two weeks, my main character continued to morph into someone else with an entire new set of issues! I didn't even recognize the story, so I put it to the side. I haven't totally given up on the idea, but it'll certainly need a lot more planning before moving forward with the drafting process.

    This is our last week of #wipmadness. I hope everyone gives themselves a pat (that glass of wine or box of chocolates!) on the back for a job well done, no matter how big or small. It's important to acknowledge even our smallest of accomplishments. Now, if I could just take my own advice! :D

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    1. Explore that new character. Maybe they'll lead you to a stronger story. :)

      Yes, it's been a great month, hasn't it? I know I won't make my main goal, but it's dependent on someone else, so that's okay, I'm working on other stuff. And reading. So I'm really okay with how it's all turned out. Onward to chocolate!

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  3. With my last MS, there was a conflict I'd pushed to the back-burner, telling myself it was just minor. But my betas were like, "Hey, more of this!" which required a major rewrite, but it was definitely worth it.

    In other news, I met my goal yesterday evening - I finished my first draft!!! Now I'm climbing the walls, trying to wait at least a week before I dive into edits.

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    1. Yay, congrats, Jennifer!

      Sometimes it takes hearing "Fix this!" from multiple people before it sinks in. And then it's usually so very worth it.

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  4. I love this post, Laura! SO MANY TIMES my books have taken new directions, so much so that I have many times questioned my ability to plot anything with ANY value the first time.

    Huge congrats to Jennifer for meeting her goal!!! Yay!!! And congrats to Carol (you can email me your prize choice).

    This week I'm at horse camp, looking after the little tykes while my son is attending the program. It's probably ambitious to think I'll get any work done there, but you know me...

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    1. Thanks, Denise! I think our stories are like bouncy balls. We can start them bouncing, but other people have to have a chance to toss them back to you.

      Have a great time at Horse Camp. You never know. Sometimes the quiet evenings in the semi-wilderness can provide exactly the space you need to be creative.

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  5. Well I really did think my next project was going to be another YA - one I've been plotting and note taking on for a few months. Nope. The historical MG raised her hand and said "Me, me next!" So I detoured.

    Good luck all!

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    1. May the detour be exactly where you need to go. Have fun!

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  6. Great post, Laura. It's so important to have the courage to listen to our gut and make those big changes, because if we continue on when we've cast the wrong guy as Marty, odds are no one's going to be making a series of writing analogies out of our movie almost thirty years later. I mean...uh...you know what I mean. ;)

    I've changed POV after I thought a ms was "finished" (ha! little did I know...) It went from alternating to a single POV. And my newest YA WIP mysteriously turned out to be MG, LOL, but the story wants what it wants, I guess, so I'll just run with it and see what happens.

    Have fun with the madness, wipsters! Home stretch this week! Go, go, go!!

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    1. Heheheheheh. :)

      Finished. That's such a relative term, isn't it? And so subjective that we need a new word for it as it applies to manuscripts.

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  7. Hey! That's my name up there! I was dawdling around on Facebook when Shari suggested I get over here and check in, and now I see why. :) Thanks, Laura! What a lovely way to start out my last week of #wipmadness!

    Thinking back, I made several changes in my second novel -- from past tense third person POV, to present tense first person, and finally to past tense first person -- and still wasn't happy with it. Of course, that might not be because of the POV so much as it's a story that just didn't work. Either way, it's been shelved and I'm chalking it up to good experience. Later characters have been much easier to live/work with!

    Can there be only one week of our March Madness left? I still have unmet goals, and they weren't big ones to start with! There is so much else happening this week, but I'm going to dig in and see how much I can get done before Easter arrives. BUT FIRST... I have to go have a look at Denise's prize list and make my choice. WooHoo!!!

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    1. Congrats again, Carol. And don't worry about it. I'm definitely not going to make my goals, unfortunately. But I've made myself okay with it. Besides, there's still six more days of checkins!

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  8. Congrats, Carol!

    CROSSED OUT originally had my MC Stephanie dealing with her anger against the church which made her 'calling' as a soul rescuer kind of ironic considering she made talismans to help murdered girls cross over to the other side. The counselor also was a pastor who filled in at the last moment. Some how that really bugged editors/publishers out there. Some said it had an almost anti-Christian feel which I didn't see at all. So after a number of personal rejections, I ended up bagging that angle. Also it was told in two different POVs-Stephanie's and Dylan's. That didn't go over really well either. I still am kicking myself for doing that as I lost more than a couple dream agent opportunities that way. **I did learn that it's better to not rush out a project just to get an agent. It'll hurt in the long round.

    This week is Spring Break! Yay! I'm so burned out with sixth grade curriculum and STAR testing is next month! Ugh. Double ugh. Husband's home sick but at least he's finally going to the doctor after I've been bugging him for the past couple months. I do hope to get some writing in this week. If I have to, I'll go to the library and just write.

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    1. Sorry to hear that, Kim. I've had a few rejections like that, too, because I still hadn't figured things out. It sucks. But there are other agents and overall, if the story's better for it, then maybe it was meant to be. Hope things go well for you on your break!

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  9. Well... my madness currently centers around splitting the novel I sold into two volumes. It's a challenge I relish, but it's making it really difficult to read and write. The reason: my thoughts keep circling back to my manuscript.

    Oh well, I'll get it right eventually. In the meantime I read 24 chapters today, which means I'm almost back up to date. I also managed to write 1550 words, which puts me back on track to achieve my 31k goal. :-)

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    1. Congrats on the sale, Misha! And I hope the splitting goes well. Awesome progress there. :)

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  10. Love this post, Laura. I actually did know about the refilming decision. In fact, the other actor was Eric Stoltz. I love him, but really, Marty McFly IS Michael J Fox and vice versa. If our story isn't true, then we gotta reshoot, so to speak. I'm still playing with my POV, so I suspect major rewrites loom large. But at least I'm writing.

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    1. Yep. As I mentioned to Mary Ann (below), I just didn't go into details because I didn't want to bog down the post. :) Happy writing.

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  11. Oh, yes. Originally the movie started shooting with Eric Stoltz in the role of Marty. I have found that my writing won't be led very well. It must do the leading and another voice or another direction sometimes just won't fit. The battle I'm doing now is trying to work the 3rd person or 1st person POV for my last ms. So many issues either way. Give and Take.

    I'm a little distracted now that I'm on spring break. Just put shelves up in my office, with the help of Ghost Hunk, and I am vowing not to spend the whole break cleaning or rearranging. I must get back to the madness!

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    1. Lloyd mentioned Stoltz and the reasons behind the casting change (I just didn't want to bog the post down with the infodump. ;)

      Yes, take that break! I have a week's staycation coming up soon, and I'm going to do my damnedest not to let household tasks take over. (Will probably leave the house for a coffee shop or something.)

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  12. I've done a lot of 180s in my work. Right now I've got two WIPs with alternating POVs and I realize what a huge challenge it is. No way around it with these stories though.

    Go, Wipsters!

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    1. Go you! :D

      What has to happen, has to happen. It's all for the good of the story, right?

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  13. I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one totally rewriting an MS! The one I'm querying started out as a 4 POV horror story with a lot of Native American elements. It's now a 2 POV urban fantasy with a made-up magic system. Hard deleting stuff but so worth it when I see/read the latest version.

    I didn't get my 2 chapters revised today. I detoured and did an adverb search and destroy. I was pretty sure I hadn't used ANY but was shocked to find more than 2,000 'ly adverbs! Bah... :(

    Congrats to Carol!

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    1. I've heard a few are okay. I know I actually made a point of not using them and that actually didn't do well for the story. Just as long as it's not every fifth sentence, you'll probably be fine. :)

      Progress is progress! :)

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  14. I had a moment yesterday when a change that I had made from my WIP's outline actually took me by surprise. It was so wildly beyond what I had planned for that character that it changed the entire tone of the rest of the story. I didn't even know I was going to do it when I started writing the chapter. As a matter of fact, I didn't even know I was going to do it as I was writing the paragraph before it happened. I wrote the sentence and literally stopped to stare at my computer like someone else had typed it. I love the feeling of surprising myself with my own writing.

    Hit 65k on the WIP today. And at a relatively reasonable hour too. Unheard of.

    Hope you're all doing well.

    - M

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    1. Congrats on meeting 65K! And yeah, those crazy epiphanies can smack us out of the blue, but they're usually so right.

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  15. Congrats, Carol!


    One of my earliest stories which I've since mothballed, went through so many incarnations. A man looking back on a childhood summer, an older teen looking back a couple years, an adolescent with a three-year time jump after the prologue, an eight-year old with a three-year time jump, and it's now a boy during the summer he turns thirteen. All but the last one? First person, past tense. I decided to go to third because there were some scenes I needed to write without the MC in it. This entire process was written in the write/edit/write method, which meant it took forever.

    Also, all the back and forth sent my initial crit partners on a goose chase because my story had multiple personalities. Editing one section but not others led to the voices sounding accurate on one page and foreign on the next. It's a mess that I'll eventually revisit. But I can see how learning the craft and working with other writers through the years has helped my writing for the better.

    My writing dream was to have that story be my first published one. As most of us know, that's not always the case. In fact, that story might never reach eyeballs again, but the passion behind the project kept me moving forward and got me to where I am today.

    And today I made a twitter commitment. I announced that I'd write two stories in April. 100K in 30 days. Previously, I wrote 70K in 30 days, 21K in 2.5 days, 8K in less than a day. It can be done. Will it be stellar prose? Not necessarily, but I want to challenge myself to just keep writing and see where it takes me.

    One edition, though--probably best to maintain some semblance of normalcy in my life--if I can figure out my website situation (I'm waiting for an email from a customer rep) rather than daily blogs, I'll blog a weekly update and/or daily twitter word counts.

    I already have big goals for April, might as well try and cut myself some slack, but not too much. haha

    Today was full of website research, Camp NaNo planning and craft book/blog/guide reading.

    Yes, I plan on sleeping in April. I hope to check in with #wipmadness as it continues.

    I'm excited for what lies ahead while freaking out on the inside. :)


    Happy Writing,

    Tonette

    P.S. I can't imagine Eric Stoltz as Marty. Hypothetically, try and imagine Michael J. Fox in 'Some Kind of Wonderful'. Glad things worked out the way they did.

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    1. Big goals, but you can do it! I can totally empathize here. I had one story that had a dozen incarnations over thirteen years, and I think I slowed my development as a writer because I was so certain it would be my first published novel, too. I'll come back to it when I can give it the talent it deserves.

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